REALWorld Law

Sale and purchase

Real estate legislation

Which legislation applies to property transactions?

New Zealand

New Zealand

The key legislation governing property transactions are:

  • Land Transfer Act 2017 and Land Transfer Regulations 2018 – The Land Transfer Act 2017 governs the system of registration of land ownership and interests in New Zealand. It maintains the certainty of property rights and enables the register to be managed electronically. This is supported by the Land Transfer Regulations 2018.
  • Overseas Investment Act 2005 – This Act governs overseas investment in New Zealand’s sensitive land and assets.
  • Property Law Act 2007 – This legislation governs land and personal property. It sets out rules including for deeds, sale and purchase of property, covenants relating to land, mortgages, and leases.
  • Unit Titles Act 2010 – This sets out the law governing building developments where multiple owners hold land in unit titles (see above). This provides the legal framework for the ownership and management of this land. In the context of a property transaction, it imposes disclosure requirements between the buyer and sellers of unit titles.

As part of the wider transaction process, there are also various Acts that may apply and can affect the title to land. These include:

  • Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter Financing of Terrorism Act 2009 – This Act concerns customer due diligence requirements on agents (including lawyers and real estate agents) to complete risk profiles on their clients and have an established AML/CFT compliance programme in place.
  • Building Act 2005 and Building Code – This outlines the requirements for construction, alteration, and demolition of new and existing buildings. A key consideration for buyer of land is whether a building on the land has been built or alterations done in accordance with the any building consent and the Building Code.
  • Public Works Act 1981 – This Act gives the Crown and certain public authorities powers and obligations in relation to the acquisition and disposal of land needed for public works (eg schools or roads). Once land held under this Act is no longer needed for the public work (or another public work) it must be offered back to the previous owner (or their successor) before the land-owning agency can sell it.
  • Real Estate Agents Act 2008 – This Act is to promote and protect the interests of consumers and increase public confidence in the performance of real estate agency work.
  • Residential Tenancies Act 1986 – See section on Residential Leases.
  • Resource Management Act 1991 – This Act promotes the sustainable management of natural and physical resources. In the context of property transactions, this mainly has implications for subdivisions and amalgamations of land, and consents issued by the territorial authority. It is currently under review, with three new Acts intended to replace it.
  • Te Ture Whenua Māori Act 1993 – This Act concerns Māori Land with principles reaffirming the Treaty of Waitangi relationship between Māori and the Crown. It aims to enable the retention of land in Māori owners, and their whanau (family) and hapu (tribe), and to protect wahi tapu (places sacred to Māori People).